Are Stop Signs/Speed Limits Enforceable In Parking Lots?
The answer to the above question will depend on whether the parking lot is private or public. Publicly owned (local or state) parking structures (garages or lots) are subjected to the “rules of the road.” However, privately owned lots (a majority of commercial shopping centers) are not subjected to the rules of the road. In case you run a stop sign in a private parking structure, you would not be issued a traffic ticket for doing so. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the driver can operate the vehicle without following safety precautions.
In case you cause a crash by running a stop sign, for instance, you will be civilly liable, and if the accident results in injuries, you will be criminally liable. Additionally, there are several regulations which prohibit “reckless driving” in off-street parking structures, whether private or public, and all DUI related laws are still applicable.
As for the exits and entrances of the parking structures, the signals and signs that are placed at these locations are designed to regulate how traffic enters or leaves the facility, and interacts with the public roadways. These signals and signs are legally binding. Therefore, in case you make a left against a “right turn only” sign, you will be issued a traffic ticket.
Police officers cannot enforce any traffic control sign that has been placed on private property.
If a crash or an accident were to take place, the police officer will indicate in the report that traffic control signs were present, and the insurance company responsible for compensation will take that into account. However, there are a few exceptions: In case you park your vehicle in a space for the disabled or in a fire lane, the police officer will issue you a traffic ticket. These signs are usually enforceable, and tickets can be issued for violating these signs, as long as they are properly posted. Some of the roads in malls and other private properties are public roads, and thus the signs on these roads are fully enforceable. Stop signs are designed to establish the right of way. If the rules of the road are not applied in the parking lots, it will result in mayhem.
Handicapped-parking spaces and fire lanes are different since they are required by the State and at times by the local laws. Property owners need to adhere to specific rules on the number of spaces for the disabled and the signage and placement for handicapped spaces and fire lanes.
Rules for Parking Lot Etiquette
At times the parking lot can become a jungle of madness, where all the road rules are thrown out the window. When in a parking lot, there are five common-sense rules that you should follow.
1. Obey Speed Limits
A majority of parking lots have speed limit signs posted on their walls. However, in case there are no signs posted, you should keep the speed to a maximum of 15mph. There is no reason for you to push the limit. Parking lots are usually full of pedestrians, particularly kids. You need to be on full alert and therefore drive slowly. Common accidents in parking lots occur between vehicles backing out of spaces, and vehicles driving down the aisle.
2. Park Courteously
We all have seen drivers who think that their vehicles are too good for just a single parking space. They take up two or more parking spaces so that we can all see that they have an expensive ride. You should be courteous when parking your vehicle and follow the lines. You should park your car at the center of the space so that the other vehicles on your both sides can easily park, and also to make it easy for the other drivers to get out of their cars after parking.
3. Don’t Wait
Do not wait for other drivers to walk to their vehicles, load all their shopping bags, get in, turn the ignition, and drive out of the parking spot. If you decide to wait, you will cause an unnecessary traffic jam. It will take you less time to park farther away, and then walk the additional distance. Waiting for the drivers to return to their vehicles is very frustrating to other drivers waiting to park, and it results in hold-ups throughout the parking lot, and not only in your immediate area.
4. Use Turn Signals
Using turn signals in a parking lot can save your parking space. Blinkers are used for a reason, to show others the intended direction of your car. Do you want to pull into an empty parking spot, and there are vehicles behind you? All you need to do is just turn on your blinkers. By turning on your blinkers, you will not only be protecting other vehicles, but you will also be signaling to pedestrians so that they can safely walk through the metal and concrete jungle.
5. Drive in The Right Direction
Some drivers seem to think that as soon as they enter a parking lot, rules of normal driving no longer apply. Who cares if you decide to drive in the opposite way down the parking lot? Actually, other drivers using the parking lot care. Each parking lot is unique- some have a single one-way aisle, and some have a two-way aisle. As a driver, you need to pay attention. In most of the parking lots, there will be arrows that point towards the appropriate driving direction.
In parking lots where there are no arrows to designate direction, you should look at the way the parking stalls have been built. If the aisles are perpendicular then it is most likely a two-way parking lot, vehicles can travel in both directions. If the parking spaces are placed diagonally, you should take a second and look again to determine the flow of traffic in the aisle. The direction of the diagonal spaces will indicate the flow of traffic. When the stalls on the two sides of the aisle all point inward, then it is a one-way road. Remember you should only drive in the direction in which you can easily pull into a parking stall.